RFID IML Labels for Injection Molding

Making its debut as the answer to identifying reusable goods permanently, RFID IML labels (In Mould Labels) presents itself as an uncompromising identifier even under extremely adverse conditions. Formerly, used as a marketing tool, IML has found its way into manufacturing both in terms of items being manufactured and in terms of items in use.  Incorporating the identification properties of  RFID, an IML accompanies goods permanently.

The label’s RFID inlay, bonded to polymer, encased in a customized plastic resin and, ultimately, taken into the plastic object itself, makes RFID IML the ultimate in long-lasting IML technology.  This type of technology is ideal for use on all types of returnable containers including: pallets, returnable crates, and other objects of long term use.  

The goal of a RFID injection mold label (RFID IML) convertor is to produce RFID IML’s that enable end-users to meet or exceed performance, cost, workability, safety and timing requirements regardless of circumstance. The user will run smarter through physical and fiscal efficiency.

Advantages of RFID IML Labels

Part of the physical efficiency of the RFID IML is its permanence. Certainly, an enterprise will choose to use RFID IML for physical and (if applicable) high-resolution print durability at a reasonable cost.

In addition to durability and permanence enterprises using RFID IML have other advantages:

  • Unobtrusive: no pressure sensitive labels exist to produce bumps on the surface of the good leading to a more esthetically pleasing label that, itself, is part of the object being identified.
  • Lower in manufacturing costs: no label-later costs germane to pick and place labor
  • Higher in efficiency: one place setting, no storage requirements of an unlabeled good
  • Warranting an increased retail price: manufacturer’s promised benefit from durable label (and look)
  • Delivering end-user value: customer obtains benefit from long-term use and no replacement cost

Advantages, also, have a wide reach into management of on-floor logistics, site logistics, and inventory, to name a few.

RFID in-mold labels have the conventional benefits of RFID for inventory and tracking. In the US, no adaptations are needed for RFID IML if RFID technology is already in use. Additionally no loss of read range occurs.

Hypothetically, any molded plastic object can be in-mold labeled. Reduced to its basic manufacturing elements, a label (or labels) is placed into an open, empty mold, the mold closes and hot/molten plastic resin is injected into the mold, fuses to the label and becomes a part of the object.

However, after a label has been formed complete with inlay, deliberation on the following issues must be taken into account before RFID IML manufacturing can commence:

  • Design and/or engineering of label magazines to hold stacks of die cut labels
  • Design and/or engineering of the automation or robotics to pick a label from the magazine and place it in the open mold
  • The “pinning” to be used to hold the label in place on the mold wall until the hot resin contacts the back of the label
  • Resin compatibility of the label to the resin of the object it identifies.

Mark Maliszewski, a materials engineer expert in polymer research at Metalcraft,  puts special emphasis on the compatibility of polymer resins in the manufacture of RFID IML labels. He stresses that a polymer label resin’s compatibility to the polymer resin of the object it identifies is essential for the utilitarian stability of the label.  But, according to Maliszewski, compatibility is difficult to achieve when specialized RFID, harsh environment labels are  required to meld with the disparate resins of customer goods.  

An appropriate polymer must be sought out for a custom-made label that is in keeping with customer needs. Label converters, therefore, must be amenable to change in label polymers and must employ experts with the know-how to adapt for success across polymers.

If you have an application for a RFID IML label, please email us at [email protected] and let our IML experts find the right solution for your project.

Aaron Hobert - RFID Technical Specialist   

About the Author: Aaron Hobert

Aaron Hobert is our RFID Technical Specialist. Hobert joined Metalcraft in September of 1994 as a Litho Press Operator, became the Autograph Team Lead in 1998 and in April 2005 he became the RFID Sales Support Rep. He was named our RFID Technical Specialist in 2008. Aaron lives outside Charles City with his wife Diane.

Mobile Phone: 641-330-2660

Email: [email protected]

Office: 3360 9th St. SW, Mason City, IA 50401

Office Phone: 641-423-9460

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